Friday, July 31, 2009

Stone Man Willie

When i was a kid my Dad, and maybe my Mom and I am sure Doc (my grandmom's boyfriend who drove a Corvair) always alluded to some guy named Stone Man Willie. He as rumored to be in the bottom of the Court House in the middle of Reading Pennsylvania.

The Expanding past: As stories sink into the past they simply get bigger and bigger.

Well when we were kids we were told a story about some guy who turned to Stone when the embalming process took a drastically wrong turn. This guy was rumored to be made of stone and he was housed somewhere in Reading Pennsylvania.

Well I was always a little intrigued and to be quite honest a little bit afraid to actually view this monster that no way in this world was going to ever exist. Also as I got older I realized my Dad told crazy stories that had very little truth to them and my Mom somehow believed them and passed them on to us.

Amongst other great big lies where.
  • If you can see the back of the leaves it is going rain. (My Mom)

  • Cows stand up when it is going to rain. (Grandfather Hoover)

  • Apples give you Carly Marbles. (GrandMother Hoover)

  • Swimming Lions will bite you when you go over a bridge. (I made that up and Zach passed it on)

Well I lived my entire life thinking Stone Man Willy was a fabrication of Dad's.

Well I hijacked this story from the internets...

Stone (Man) Willie
In the year of 1895, a body of a man was taken to the Auman Funeral Home in Reading, Pa. He died in the old prison that stood in Penn's Common which is now our City Park.
Theodore C. Auman was intrigued with the possibilities of preserving the dead, other than placing them on a block of ice. He had found in an old German medical book a chemical formula for preserving meat. Until now, he had no means of experimenting. He seeked permission from state and local authorities to use the unclaimed body. In his first attempt, he used too much formula and the body became mummified.
The identify of Stone (Man) Willie has to this day remained anonymous. He was thought to be Michael Phohonski, a man who hanged himself in the same prison. Pietro Buccieri, a man who killed a nurse at St. Joseph Hospital in 1892. James Murphy from Wilkes-Barre, James Maypenny from Philadelphia, plus many more.
When he was arrested Oct. 7, in West Reading, Pa, for burglarizing the Morris Brown Boardinghouse. He gave the name James Penn, admitting it wasn't his real name. To this day, no one knows where the name Stone (Man) Willie came from.
The only time I saw Stone (Man) Willie was in 1972. He was in a lower part of the funeral home. He laid on a cot. There had been many myths about the dead man which were dispelled. His hair and fingernails do not grow. The body shrinks every year making the hair and nails longer. He was a white man , 37 years of age, 5' 10" and weighted 127 pounds. The formula that was injected into him has made his skin tone darker. We were told that every few years they give him a new pair of pajamas to ware.
Around 1994, the Auman Family sold the business to Service Corporation International, the largest funeral and cemetery company in the world. Theodore C. Auman III remains as president and manager. It was rumored, Stone (Man) Willie would be buried. Last week a call was made to Auman's and they said Willie was indeed still there but he is no longer available to be viewed.

As they say in Berks County.

It don't matter.

Here are some classic berks County Quotes about the Stone Man

Here is another cool story about Berks oddities.

1 comment:

Scadeanya said...

I seen Stone Man Willie many times. As children they would let us go see him, he was in the basement of the funeral home at that time. I lived a block away. So yes he existed, my children and friends think the same thing you probably was thinking.